BMW Vision EfficientDynamics. Part 1

February 10th, 2010 by Darren Cottingham

The new BMW Vision EfficientDynamics combines superb driving performance with extremely low consumption

All electric Rolls-Royce Phantom?

September 24th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Rolls-Royce Phantom fq

There aren’t many carmakers left who haven’t unveiled an electric car concept or at least talked about it. Now, it’s the turn of Rolls-Royce to speak out and spark speculation that a fully electric Phantom is around the corner.

The silent, smooth and clean power provided by electricity fits in well with the ongoing Rolls-Royce mission statement of stylish, luxurious transport.

Fitting the mass and bulk of an all-electric battery pack into the Phantom’s three tonne mass should be an easy matter once you replace the 453-horsepower, 6.7-litre V-12 engine. The only issue may arise in supplying enough electricity to offer a useful range.

Considering the often short, urban nature of many Phantom trips, a short range may not put off many buyers. In the event that it is an issue, a range-extending engine could be added to the package without too much difficulty.

Beyond the ease of fitting the system into the Phantom and the good fit of electric power with Rolls-Royce’s objectives, there’s the future consideration of emissions regulations driving the decision. With Europe the U.K and even the U.S., pushing emissions requirements ever-lower, finding a way to stay in the game will be key to survival in the luxury car segment, and no more so than Rolls-Royce.

Nissan unveils EV and hybrid prototypes

August 7th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

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Nissan has unveiled all-electric and original hybrid electric prototype vehicles, both powered by advanced lithium-ion batteries. Under the NISSAN GT 2012 business plan, the company has committed to zero-emission vehicle leadership, and has announced plans to introduce an all-electric vehicle in 2010 and mass market globally in 2012.

Powered by advanced lithium-ion batteries, the EV prototype is part of Nissan’s substantial research and development programme on zero emission vehicles. This latest generation vehicle features a front-wheel drive layout and uses a newly developed 80kW motor and inverter. The advanced laminated compact lithium-ion batteries are installed under the floor, without sacrificing either cabin or cargo space.

Nissan say the production vehicle to be introduced in 2010 will have a unique bodystyle and is not based on any existing Nissan model.

The Nissan original HEV delivers two breakthrough technologies — a high-performance rear-wheel drive hybrid system and parallel-powertrain hybrid system. The hybrid employs Nissan’s own originally developed hybrid technology and its first rear-wheel drive hybrid powertrain.

The parallel-powertrain system comprises an energy-optimising system with two clutches, where one motor is directly connected to an engine and transmission via two separate clutches. Under changing driving conditions, the motor switches between the two clutches to optimise and conserve energy utilisation as well as improve fuel-efficiency.

The parallel-powertrain hybrid system eliminates the need for conventional torque converters, contributing to higher responsiveness and linear acceleration for improved driving feel.

The dynamic characteristics of the clutches are as follows:

* Idle-stop: The battery is used to power the motor to save on fuel.
* Regular driving: The engine is used to power the motor as well as regenerate the battery.
* Acceleration: Both the engine and battery (power assist) is used to power the motor to achieve smooth acceleration.
* Deceleration: Energy from braking is conserved and re-routed back to regenerate the battery.

The advanced lithium-ion batteries used in both prototypes are sourced from the Nissan-NEC joint-venture, AESC (Automotive Energy Supply Corporation). These advanced batteries offer superior performance, reliability, safety, versatility and cost competitiveness, compared to the conventional nickel metal-hydride batteries. Its compact laminated configuration delivers twice the electric power compared to conventional nickel-metal hydride batteries with a cylindrical configuration. The compact batteries also allow for improved vehicle packaging and a wide range of applications.

Nissan has long experience in electric-powered vehicle development, commencing from the first EV “Tama Electric Vehicle” back in 1947.  The company introduced the world’s first application of lithium-ion batteries to the Prarie Joy EV in 1996, followed by the ultra-compact electric vehicle, Hypermini, released in 2000.  Nissan also introduced its first original hybrid vehicle Tino Hybrid back in 1999 in Japan. In 2006, the Altima Hybrid was introduced in North America using licensed technology.

Under the Nissan Green Program 2010 environmental plan, the company aims to develop new technologies, products and services that can lead to real-world reductions in vehicle CO2 emissions, cleaner emissions, and recycling of resources. Nissan continues to invest substantially in a wide range of technologies including CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission), VVEL (Variable Valve Event and Lift), clean diesels, biofuels and fuel cell vehicles.

Majority of UK drivers want ‘green cars’

August 4th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

New figures out today reveal that almost three quarters (71 per cent) of British motorists would consider driving an electric car to help combat ‘green’ issues, according to research by esure car insurance.

Younger motorists are more likely to buy environmentally-friendly cars such as electric, hybrid or bio-fuel; a huge 81 per cent of under 25’s would contemplate driving an electric car.  This may be due to the associated lower costs of motoring – freedom from high petrol prices, road tax and congestion charges plus access to cut-price parking(2) — in addition to a general empathy towards environmental issues.

However, the over 55’s appear more set in their ways with a significantly lower number of those surveyed (66 per cent) considering to make such a change to their regular car buying decision-making.

According to the poll, 65 per cent of motorists questioned have changed their attitude towards driving because of the credit crunch and a general tightening of the nation’s purse strings.  Nearly one in five (17 per cent) are thinking about changing their car to one that is more fuel-efficient.  A further 14 per cent of those surveyed said they would consider making a change if the current level of inflation persisted and fuel prices continued to rocket.

NICE car company shows off electric future

July 22nd, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

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Launched two years ago in London, NICE is back with a bang — or as loud a bang as an all-electric vehicle company can make.

NICE (which stands for No Internal Combustion Engine) will be showing off 3 horseless carriages in their electric stable at the upcoming British Motor Show.

Stand highlights include a global debut for the new Ze-0. European styled and developed and built in China, it will be the world’s first affordable, 5-door electric family car. Ze-0 brings all the benefits of electric motoring in a package that boasts a range of up to 110km in typical city driving and makes no compromise on specification or styling. It will cost from as little as £13,995 (NZ$37,000) when it goes on sale in the Autumn.

Another world first on the NICE stand comes from the stunning MyCar. This Italian-styled two-seater is small, attractive and competitively priced. It will start from just £8,995 (NZ$24,000) when it too goes on sale in the Autumn and has a range of around 65km – perfect for city motoring.

Electric MINIs to glide down Californian streets?

July 11th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

Over the next months, the BMW Group will be carrying out various series of tests on electrically powered vehicles to determine the alternative drive of the future. Several hundred MINI vehicles are being prepared for this.

The cars, built in the Oxford plant, will be modified accordingly in Munich and fitted out for trials.

“This step will allow the BMW Group to gain an initial knowledge of how mobility can be achieved efficiently using purely electrically powered vehicles. Our task here is to combine the ultimate driving experience with an efficient electrified drive with practically no emissions”, underlined Dr. Norbert Reithofer, Chairman of the Board of Management of BMW AG.

The tests on alternative drives in a MINI body will be used over the next 12-18 months to refine the technology. Details about the drive concept and its marketing will be published towards the end of the year.

Rumours are abound that 500 such MINIs will be leased to members of the public in California for the trials.

Hyundai to introduce LPG-electric hybrid

July 10th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

hyundai-elantra-lpg-hybrid-fq

Hyundai Motor Company plans to start retail sales of its first LPG-electric hybrid vehicle in July 2009. To be sold initially in the Korean domestic market under the Avante badge, the Elantra LPI Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) is the world’s first hybrid vehicle to be powered by liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and the first to adopt advanced Lithium Polymer (Li-Poly) batteries.

“We are excited about this new technology and looking forward to working with HMC to bring this to New Zealand” says Philip Eustace, Executive Director Hyundai Motors New Zealand.

Powered by a Liquefied Petroleum Injected (LPI) Gamma engine displacing 1.6 litres, a 15kW electric motor and a continuously variable transmission, the Elantra LPI HEV is a mild-type hybrid capable of delivering a competitive fuel economy rating.

The Elantra LPI HEV promises to be as much as 40 percent cheaper to operate than other competitor models in the marketplace and 50 percent less than a conventional Elantra model powered by a gasoline-only engine.

The Elantra LPI HEV will have a premium cost compared to a conventional Elantra due to the extra hardware (Li-Poly battery, DC motor and electrical control system). However, with the resulting fuel savings, Elantra LPI HEV buyers can expect to recover the extra cost of the vehicle in about two years.

In addition, the Elantra LPI HEV emits just 103g/km of CO2 and 90 percent fewer emissions than an equivalent standard gasoline-powered Elantra to qualify as a Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (SULEV).

The Elantra LPI HEV will be the first car in the world to use lithium polymer rechargeable batteries. Li-poly batteries have significant advantages over lithium-ion batteries including higher energy density, lower manufacturing costs, being more robust to physical damage and they can also take more charge-discharge cycles before storage capacity begins to degrade.

Despite initial sales of the Elantra LPI HEV being restricted to the Korean domestic market, New Zealand is already looking at the possibility of bringing the hybrid here as we have an excellent LPG distribution infrastructure.

As the Elantra LPI HEV remains under development, more detailed technical specifications will be released closer to the July 2009 launch date.

Smart Police switch to electric

June 26th, 2008 by Darren Cottingham

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Smart is helping the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) cut carbon emissions in London as they take part in the market trial of the fully electric, smart ed (electric drive).

Four versions of the low emission, two-seater car will be used in congested urban areas for routine police operations.  Two of the cars have Metropolitan Police livery and will be deployed in Central London and at Heathrow Airport.

The smart ed is powered solely by electricity and is charged using a standard three-pin plug. The car emits no carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, unburned hydrocarbons or particulate matter. It is economical and can achieve the equivalent of around 300 miles per gallon.

The smart ed has a top speed of 60 mph and has a range of up to 70 miles in between charges. The car has all the safety equipment that customers expect: ABS, ESP, passenger and driver airbags and seat belt pre-tensioners.

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